Saturday, August 22

HK Shopping

HK Trip

I'm back! Yes, another travelogue!
We sistahs promised each other we would have one local trip and one international trip once a year. This is our international trip of the year!
Hong Kong and Macau!

We stayed at a clean but strange sort of Hostel in the heart of Cuaseway Bay. When you get down from the building, you are beside Stefanel, Armani and DKNY.
Read more to see tips and tricks in a five day HK trip!

Time Square! We were surrounded by malls, shops and brands!
There's Sogo, Watsons, WTC, Laforet, Timesquare and Fashion Walk!
Yeah, there brands and brand all over. it's something I noticed. HK fashion Designers are not as well known. i tried to find some local brands but all I see int he local mags are international brands.
If you don't want to spend that much in shopping, go to the bazaars. There are lots of them all over. Each station has it's own. Cuaseway has a few. Central has a lot. For cheap market, go to Tsim Sha Tsui.
If you want brands concentrated in one area, go to Macaua Four Seasons and Venetian. Fashion Walk and LCX and other Japanese fashion centers are located in Causeway Bay.
They have it all!

Yes, Japanese fashion is quite popular. Laforet and Sogo are close to each other here.
Beware: Hongers tend to discriminate Minalanders.

Food! Their cheap food might not convert well in our money value but let me tell you, it is so good! The food in the street is nothing you can eat in our street. Hongers have a different taste in fashion and food. Here we ate in the night market street where ever six o'clock, it is lined with tables and food is served hot. Yummy!
Caution! Not for the sensitive tunny for it may seem a little unsanitary.
Don't worry, I didn't get sick!
Disney Disney Disney!
Man, I felt like a kid!
I ate and ate and ate, rode rides, bought some souvenirs, ate again, drank this, ice cream there. Oh, yeah, ate and took home some Disney food to the hostel.
Hongers don't clap much after every performance. Disney staff who are Hongers don't smile much either. It mgiht be a cultural thing. Don't be offended. You can smile all you want. Hey, it's Disney land!
Yeah, people might say HK Disneyland is small but Disney is Disney. It won't disappoint.
Bring about HK$500 with you. That would cover food, beverages and souvenirs. Price range for drink is $20. If you go inside a fastfood area it can be only $18. If you buy it in the street cart, it can cost up to $24. Food price is about $40 to $60 per meal. Snack like the burger meal at Orbit Cafe is $56 with drink. Orbit is the cheapest so far.
The Mickey Tiramisu from Maxim Bakery is only $22.
Souvenir key chain or candies might cost about $50. Stuffed toys are about $200.
FWI: There is a HK Disneyland store in the Airport. It is cheaper because it is tax free but not all goods are available. Buy your goodies in Main Street. it's the most complete. If you want buzz Light year goods, buy it in Tomorrow Land.
Tip: Bring umbrella, extra shirt and comfy shoes/slippers.

The Venetian Macau
We had one day of Macau via Cotaijet. Ticket costs about $134 going and $170 coming back. Last jet leaves Macau at 11:30pm. Buss is free going to Venetian.
Don't worry about converting to Pataca(Macau Money). You can pay in HK$ but expect some change in Pataca.
The whole day, we spent it at the Venetian. there is so much to do. They have a food court if you find restuarants expensive. Food is about $50 to $90 per person. Serving is big so three people can share two orders. There is a wide choice of Aisan food and two western restaurants.
The venetian has twoo floors of stores. Everything is high end brand stores like Coach, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Bvlgari, etc. it was sale the time we went there.
Don't worry about entertainment. There have 3 canals where you may ride the gondola. Hey, it's venice. The wall facade immitates the old Venice world. There are lamp posts and shuttered windows. Most of them are just decoration.
The highlight of the Venetian is the street performers. They call it Streetmosphere. There are mimes, jugglers, stilk walkers, musicians, living statues and singers.
You'll never get bored!
To crown it all off, there is Zaia, the Cirque du Soliel performance only at the venetian. Licket is a little pricy. Get ehn at a travel anget's to get discount. Buy ahead of time. It's worth seeing! Show starts at eight. Ends at nine thirty. Buy some souvenirs if you wnat or just browse through their souvenir shop. They, you may take the bus back to the ferry port and go home. Passport ready!
Caution: Do not buy ticket from individauls selling you tickets outside teh ferry terminal. Go inside the terminal and buy it inside. Don't beleive the sellers who sell it for $100. It mgiht be fake. Tickets are non-transferable and non-refundable. You need to show your Passport to buy.

This is a fascinating restaurant. I found out about it on our last night. I instantly announce we had to eat there.
Since we were already full from dinner, Achi Terry, Diki and I decided to get some poopie ice cream.
Yes, they serve it in a toilet bowl. Price of ice cream is about $45 each. It it big and you may have to share with someone and not even finish it. Drink is about $29. You may want to share this as well. Service is good. They charge 12% service charge.
There are two branches: Cuaseway Bay and Mongkok. We ate at Causeway Bay. It is at the 4th floor of Watsons. There may not be signs but you may ask people.

All in all, our HK trip was wonderful. A bit tiring but owrth it.
Caution: Culture Shock everyone. They may seem a little rude but that's just everyday for Hongers. When eating, they suddenly take your plate away, it's aqueue to get out. For them, it's eat then skidadle. They don't talk after eating or make friend with the next table.
Tips: Wear comfy shoes. Train rides are fast but you be standing a lot then running around the station can make your legs big. Oh, if you can, ride the tram wherever you can. If you ride the front of the second floor, you get a panaoramic view of the city. also, it is cheap. It consts only $2 any where.
Leave the hotel 3 hours before departure time. They won't let yuo in 1 hour before departure. It takes 1 hour to get tot he airport since it's in another island. It takes 1 hour to find your way around to check-in and then you wait int he pre-departure area for 1 hour. Lots to eat and lots of shops to see. It is a little pricey. Go to the thrid floor. Burger King is probably the cheapest meal to eat. Go buy a Ben & Jerry's. It's worth it. A scoop is $30 each. Yummy. I tried 3 flavors. We so stuffed by the time we borded.

Good luck travelers!
Hope this way insightful!
If you have comments and additional info, please comment!

HongKong Trip 09

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Saturday, August 8

Lord, take care of me...

I was counting what i have and balancing what my accounts have. Man, I don't have enough. So, I decided to bring cup noodles to HK since I really didn't have budget.

So, I prayed it was enough. HK$1,000, hopefully it was enough. Then, I decided to clean up my drawers. I haven't since the flood so it was high time i did.

Oh, look. I forgot about this pile. It was my Honor Medals and Mother Marie Eugenie Medal. Then under was St. Benilde and St. La Salle Certificates. In between all of them fell Php3,700.00 a one dollar bill and three old ten peso bills. Thank you Jesus! Thank You St. Benilde, Las Salle and Marie Eugenie!

Now I have extra for HK!

Tuesday, August 4

Typical Scenarios

This story, you may have heard before. Not that we know of the same person but this scenario takes place in a lot of families. Some scenes I combined, compressed and probably furnished a bit. I don't want to write their lives verbatim.

Dramatis Personae:
(Names not real. As in I changed it!)

Pads- He's the patriarch. Characteristics: Consitidor, can't take charge of family.
Maddy- She's the matriarch. Characteristics: take-charge attitude.
Atz- Eldest girl Characteristics: Social climber but scared of making it big.
Budz- Middle child, boy. Characteristics: Goes with the flow. weakling.
Wetz- Youngest. Characteristics: Weakling. Spoiled.

Other characters: Boss, Supervisor, Atz's husband Mac, creditors, etc.

Part 1

Pads is a part-time janitor of Big Company. Since big is a big and sharing company, it wants to take care of its employees. Pads took up night classes. Boss finds out and helps Pads in any small way he can. Soon, Pads graduates from a two year night course in typing and secretarial. He's then promoted to a low-level office worker. With Pads' new job, he's entitled to benefits like a health care, SSS, housing plan and educational plans for his children. The house is located near Big Company. In fact, Big owns the subdivision and is helping each employee rent to own properties. This is a big break for Pads. From an informal dweller, he's soon to be a titled home owner. Best part is, it is in a safe and secured subdivision. His children will be safe from drugs, hooligans and other canto-happenings. With the educational assistance, he's able to send all three children to school even if it just a cheap school.

Everything seems to go well for Pads and his family. They have friends in high places, good neighbors and everything to live comfortably. A few years later, his eldest girl graduates and applies for Big Company. Since she had good educational attainment, she at once got a white collared job in Big.

We think that Pads and his family are having a happy ending? Nope. This family is now heading for their destruction and it all starts with one mistake compounded by another mistake and to be followed by more mistakes.

Pads income is enough to support his family. His wife is a housewife since they married and refused to work thinking she's too old. Atz is supposed to be making more. She's entered a position higher than her fathers. She's also entitled to an extra benefit: the credit card.
Now, Atz is having more friends but somehow she grew up insecure because they used to be informal dwellers(squatters). Now she wants to rise above her friends. She maxed out her card in less than a month. Thinking she can pay it little by little, she pays the minimum. Sadly, Atz doesn't understand how Philippine credit cards work. Paying minimum will not erase the debt. It is still there and will keep being there until the full payment plus interest is paid.

Because Atz wants to shop and go out to have some fun, she uses up her savings. She fails one payments and now the bank is putting penalty and surcharge. In less than a year, the original amount is now five hundred percent. pads and his family refused to pay for the debt. They stop ansewring calls from creditors. The creditors, being the sharks that they are, went to their house and their work place. Pads and his family were forced to move away and hide from the creditors. Atz was fired because she refused to answer phone calls and most phone calls were the creditors hounding her. She was given an ultimatum: fix it or get fired. She gets fired for failing to fix the problem.

Now the family is back to a single man income. Pads is trying his best to find a sideline to earn some extras. His supervisor takes pity on him and gives whatever he can to support Pads. On weekeends, Pads does oddjobs in Supervisor's house as extra. Supervisor's wife is a school teacher and has agreed to let Budz and Wetz in her classes for free. Bubz drops out eventually because he felt he was too old for the class. Wetz stays but is asked to help out after classes.

Part 2

Pads and his family are now living in an informal community. It is not safe and far from his job. This eats up his income. Commute money is bigger now and rising oil prices steadily increases the fare prices on public vehicles. He is also paying more rent than in the Big Company Subdivision. He should have been able to own the house in a few years but now that he's moved away, his payments are forfeit.

Since they are in an informal dwelling, Atz gets herself pregnant. pads gets her married and quick to her boyfriend. The child in question is undetermined if the current boyfriend is ther eal father but Pads wanted to save face. He asks his Supervisor to be the Ninong of the wedding. He asks other employees in Big to sponsor some things for the wedding. They weren't too happy but they they wanted to help the poor man. The wedding was grand. Pads had to borrow money from Supervisor just for they wedding.

Atz finally gave birth. Luckily, Pads insurance covered for his daughter's hospital bills. Unfortunately, Atz' husband, Mac, does not have a stable job. Mac is a carpenter and is only hired when the contractor needs extra hands. Since Mac has no special skills, he's not always called to do a job. he keeps a cellphone just in case his supervisor would call him but he can hardly put load in it. He often have to ask Atz to ask Pads. By the ways, MAC LIVES WITH THEM. Why? Because he can't afford to live on his own. He's also an informal dweller. He thought he was marrying into a well-off family but lo and behold, he married to a class like him and is even in debted and runnign from creditors. He tries his hardest to find jobs and support is starting family. Whatever extra hemade was supposed to be put in to pay for the debts but his father-in-law advised against it. The money was sued to move houses again when the creditors discovered where he lives.

Budz falls into bad company. He roams the street, does drugs and hang with the wrong crowd. His father had to bail him out a few times when he was caught shoplifting with his friends. Once it was suspected of using drugs. Another time it was disorderly conduct. He gets a girl pregnant. Pads wants him to marry the girl but they have no money. The girl demands support. Pads has to send money for the child's hospitalization. This couldn't be covered by his insurance. Pads had to borrow monay again. Budz soon runs away and never shows up again unfortunately, the girl with his child still demands money.

They move again.

This time, the informal dwelling is even farther. In desperation, Pads steals from the office. When he was found out, he begged and pleaded with Boss. Boss was a kind-hearted man who beleived in second chances but he also beleived in punishment. Pads was demoted to being janitor again. His bennefits were taken away but Boss decided not to cut his pay as a means to help Pads.

Part 3

Wetz is being teased in school. She is fat from eating junk food instead of healthy food. She is also not the prettiest girl so she is insecure. Since she is "poor" and has to help after classes, she feels like she is being treated as a "maid." Teacher begs her to stay on and complete her education. It would only be a few month before she can finally finish highschool. Wetz quit. She stays home. Unfortunately, where her home is, it is even nastier than their previous informal dwelling. She gets knocked-up by some random boys in the street. Months later, she is found pregnant. she can't tell who the father is because there were multiple men and none of them she knows the name.

Maddy has had it. Atz is working again in a different company with no bennefits and very little pay. She is owrking all day and Maddy has to take care of the child. Budz' child is given to her by theunwilling mother. She has to care for two children and now a possible third. She goes to Quiapo and buys an abortive. She tells Wetz to drink it.

Wetz drinks the abortive. Unfortunately, since she is a little fat, nobody knows how many month she along. She's actually seven months now and refused to tell her mother. When she takes the abortive, she unwittingly forced labor and the child was healthy enough to survive. She gives birth by herself in her room. In a panic, she dumps the child in the trashcan and covers it with papers. Since she doesn't know what to do and there were complications from the abortive, she bleeds profusely. She calls out to Maddy. Maddy lays herdown the bed. she sees lots of blood and thinks it's done now but the bleeding won't stop. She calls her husband in the office and tells him of the emergency.

Pads hears the enws in the middle of the day. He has to rush home. Supervisor drives him himself and they rush to Pads' house. No ambulance has been called since it was too expensive. Plus, the abulance couldn't get in the tight alley ways of the infomal settlers. Pads and Maddy help Wetz to Supervisor's car. While the couple helps their daughter, Supervisor notices something moving and making sounds in the trashcan. He uncovers it and finds a struggling little baby. He picks it up and guessed what had happened in the room. They all drove to the nearest hospital. Supervisor had to take care of the bill since Pads had no money at all.

Maddy returns home and locks herself in her room. She refused to face reality. Supervisor's wife takes time off her work to comfort and help Wetz. She thinks Wetz is suffering some psychological trauma and wishes to help the girl. Wetz is catatonic for days. The baby is premature and had to be incubated. It was a miracle that is was alive and struggled to make tiself known even when it's air passage was still blocked.

Wetz snaps out of it days later and was able to go home. She wants to keep her child. Now there was three children at home to take care of. Supervisor want to file abortion charges against Maddy but Pads begs him not to.

Maddy dies some months later by some unknown desease she has kept from everybody. They burial expenses is very expensive, even the cheapest ones. Atz, Mac and Pads spare all their saving just to bury Maddy.

Pads is still in debt and can't run from these creditors. He's borrowed money from a lot of people form the Big Company. If he quits his job, he has no other means to support his family. It was the only job with big pay for a janitor. He adviced Mac to be an OFW.

Part 4

Pads develops a text relationship with someone's wife. She happens to be wife of a person in Big. For the girl it's just a texting game. Pads takes it seriously. he begins to call her and text non-stop. He gets big phone bills. People in the Big Company notices. He inadvertedly make s amistake when he miss-sends the messgae to his love to his Boss' number.

Boss can't take it any longer. Pads is fired for misorderly conduct. He is out of a job.

Finally, he gets a job nearby as a "tig-boy" and part-time driver. It requires him to live with his new boss. he come home only for the weekend. Still, he has to pay a monthly rent for his house in the informal dwellings. Wetz stays home and refuses to get a job or an education. Atz wants to be a stay-home mom. Mac finally gets a job abroad.

Mac goes to Saudi. Everything's arranged and he had a job waiting for him. He bid his wife and in-laws a goodbye. He goes toa faraway land with other contract workers like him. He earns good money but has to send a big bulk of it to pay for Pads' debt and a way for Atz to live on. he send money home for a few months. One day, he stops and cuts all communication form them. He thinks he can do better. Mac decides to start new and debt free.

Atz coulnd't beleive Mac abandoned them. He never really loved her. She enver really loved him. She just wanted to get away and now she is stuck. She gets a job, small paying and no benefits. Pads comes home on a weekend and soemtimes he doesn't. Fortunately, he still pays for the house and all the bills that comes with it. Wetz takes care of all the kids because it's the only contribution she could give.

That is their story up to date.

Yes, they are still living.

They might be closer than you think.

Is this a typical story? Yes. They are hundreds of stories similar to it. This is the real State of the Nation.
Sad but true.

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